Innocent Until Proven Guilty

I've been listening to a podcast recently called Anti-Social - which you can find here on BBC Sounds.


I found the Trans Rights podcast particularly interesting as it is something that has been discussed in our family. Our eldest daughter was horrified by JK Rowling's comments regarding trans women, she's a massive Harry Potter fan, but also an advocate for Trans Rights, so it was a disappointment to hear her hero say things that she doesn't agree with.

Listening to the programme, I learned more about the complexities of this issue.

Firstly, I came to understand what a TERF is (a term JK Rowling has been accused of being). 

For those of you not in the know, here is my understanding of the term TERF. 

TERF stands for Trans-Exclusionary Radical Feminist. These are women who reject the assertion that trans-women are women and therefore should be excluded from women's only spaces such as ladies toilets, changing rooms, prisons, etc...

Trans-Inclusive Feminists feel that TERF's are transphobic. However, women branded with this term feel that it is disparaging and derogatory. 

There is also the argument about sex and gender - we are born a certain sex, but our gender is more fluid and may change in our life time. This has been discussed at length in Juliet Butlers book Gender Trouble and Bodies that Matter.

Sport is an interesting one - in a survey quoted in the programme a large majority of women felt comfortable sharing a women's only space with transwomen, but were less comfortable with transwomen competing in sports against cis* women.  

And then there is an argument regarding transwomen's true understanding of what it is to be female as only women born with female genitalia run the risk of getting pregnant when raped, and are more likely to get breast cancer than someone who is born a male and, of course, we menstruate.

This is a complex and difficult issue. I feel lucky that I was born with the gender that I prefer, I can't imagine how it must feel not to be, but I am glad that there are ways to help people become the person they want to be (Although, from my reading, this is far from a simple process both physically, mentally and from a legal perspective - trans people have to apply to have a gender recognition certificate if they want the correct sex marker on their birth, marriage and death certificate)  Surely, every human has the right to feel like they are living in the right body? 

One of the biggest concerns is that the infighting amongst the feminist and LGBTQIA2S+ communities is actually doing more harm than good. A recent survey said that more than half of 18 - 24 year old men thought feminism 'had gone too far.' Which is devastating for someone of my generation who have seen some improvements in equality and how people are treated in our lifetimes. 

There are still, however, vast bridges to be built to reach true equality, indeed it may be a pipe dream and sometimes it actually feels like the world is going backwards when you see the reversal of the Roe V Wade law in America and the amount of women killed in this country every week (there are at least 2 a week) by an abusive partner (Jess Phillips MP reads the names out in parliament once a year - there were 108 women on the list this year). And now a community that has had to fight to be even partially accepted is now being attacked again.

Gallop did a poll for Stonewall in 2020 that looked at hate crime against trans-people.

They found in the previous 12 months 4 out of 5 had experienced some form of hate crime.

1 in 4 had experienced either the threat of, or actual physical abuse.

1 in 5 had experienced either the threat of, or actual sexual abuse. 

If you want to read the full report - you can find it here

Women are suffering similarly;

Violence against women found 'Globally 81,000 women and girls were killed in 2020, around 47,000 of them (58%) died at the hands of an intimate partner or a family member. This is an average of one death every 11 minutes'

1 in 4 - 18 - 24 year old women will experience physical abuse in a domestic in a relationship.

Some trans people no longer feel safe leaving their home. Some women no longer feel safe leaving their home. 

Why am I comparing these two sets of data? To show that perhaps we are more similar than we think. I listened to the discussion and I don't disagree that the issues are complex. But ultimately, if we were all just kinder to one another, more accepting and allowed for all our differences, things would be a lot easier. Oh...I hear you cry, you have over simplified, you haven't got to the root of anything. Maybe not, but I still believe that we should assume good over bad and always give the benefit of the doubt. Aren't we all innocent until proven guilty? 

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